4342) When I was a kid, I didn’t quite know why “heshe” hurt me more than other insuls, but it did. Then when I got to middle school and learned that hermaphroditism was a real thing, I could barely contain my glee but I didn’t understand that either. Years later, after I had realized my trans* status, I had a rather intense moment of “oh. duh.”
Humans can’t be hermaphroditic, they would need both fully functions sexual organs of either sex.
Humans can be intersex, which means they have ambiguous genitalia.
It is actually possible for a human to have both ovarian and testicular gonadal tissues, and thus fulfill the scientific definition of hermaphroditism (it’s hard to functionally define “fully functional” and it’s not a requirement), but it’s incredibly rare.
That said, “hermaphrodite” applied to human beings is almost always both scientifically inaccurate and offensive. Like any other slur, people to whom it is applied might choose to reclaim it, but if it’s not being used against you, you don’t get to make the call.
Intersex conditions can result in ambiguous or “atypical” genitalia (one example of genitals that are considered atypical but not ambiguous would be what is considered a “micropenis,” that is, a penis that cannot be stretched to one inch in length at birth). It’s important to recognize, however, that intersex people can also be born with genitalia that are considered completely “typical.”
One example of this would be “complete” Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome (AIS), where a newborn is assigned female based on observed genitalia at birth, but has XY chromosomes and internal testes rather than ovaries. This is typically diagnosed when a female-assigned person reaches an advanced age without menstruating, or in some cases, when treatment is sought for infertility. Most people with complete AIS also self-identify as women.
Basically, biological sex is super complicated and definitely NOT limited to “two sexes” (which I know thatcrazytransgirl knows), and while I want people to learn accurate and not hurtful terminology, I’m honestly pretty happy just to hear that more people are becoming aware of this relatively early in life.